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Serial Killer Index Short List
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Serial Killer Index
serial killers by name [m] amazon
  MOORE Henry Lee USA ... ... ... 26+
1911 1912 KS IL IO CO MO
 : ... ... ... ...
A lethal drifter prone to violent rages, Henry Moore was prosecuted in December 1912 for murdering his mother and maternal grandmother in Columbia, Missouri. Both his victims had been slaughtered with an ax, and while the crime was grim enough, it barely scratched the surface of a bloody rampage spanning eighteen months, five states, and more than twenty homicides. Discovery of Henry's secret came about when lawmen in Villisca, Iowa, requested federal assistance in solution of a local massacre, in June of 1912. An unidentified assailant had employed an ax to slaughter J.B. Moore, four children, and a pair of female visitors, the Stillinger sisters; police had bodies in abundance, but they had no clues. A federal officer, M.W. McClaughry, was assigned to the case, and his investigation indicated that the crime in Iowa was not unique. Nine months earlier, in September 1911, six victims had been slain in Colorado Springs; the victims there included H.C. Wayne, his wife and child, along with Mrs. A.J. Burnham and her children. October was a busy month, with triple murder wiping out the Dewson family in Monmouth, Illinois, rebounding into Ellsworth, Kansas, where the Showman family - five in all - were slaughtered in their home. On June 5, 1912 - mere days before the carnage in Villisca, Rollin Hudson and his wife were murdered in Paola, Kansas. Axes had been used in every case. In no case had a suspect been identified, and rumors of "a romance angle" in the Hudson crime produced no leads. McClaughry was convinced that he was dealing with a transient maniac, but clues were still in short supply. Hard work, coincidence, and luck eventually saved the day. McClaughry's father was the warden of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, a man with far-flung contacts in the prison system. When he heard about the case of Henry Moore, already serving life in the Missouri lockup, he informed his son. Comparison of modus operandi in the several cases, capped by interviews with Moore, inspired McClaughry to announce, on May 9, 1913, that the books were cleared on twenty-three Midwestern homicides. Ironically, there was a ghoulish post-script in the case that launched McClaughry's own investigation. In September 1917, a minister, the Reverend Lynn George Kelly, was arrested for the murders at Villisca. Kelly signed confessions , indicating that the massacre was perpetrated in response to God's direction. Booming astral voices had directed Kelly to a rubbish heap, where he retrieved a cast-off ax, and on from there, until he reached the home of J.B. Moore. Obeying his instructions to "slay utterly," the pastor crept inside and killed eight persons as he wandered through the house. But there were problems with the minister's confession. On the same day they were publicized, George Kelly told his wife the documents contained "pure fabrications." Granted, he had signed the statements, but he was not sure precisely why. Approaching trial, he publicly recanted, and his ramblings seemed to bolster pleas of mental illness. That November, members of a jury spent four and a half hours deliberating evidence before acquitting Rev. Kelly on all counts. Despite McClaughry's confidence in Henry Moore's participation, the Villisca case, officially, remains unsolved.
Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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